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AARP PPI Fact Sheet Notes High Costs of Biologic Drugs

For Immediate Release

Contact: AARP Media Relations, 202-434-2560,

AARP's Public Policy Institute released a new Fact Sheet today that notes the high price of biologic drugs and underscores the need for lower-priced generic versions of brand-name biologics.

Current cost estimates reveal that the average annual treatment costs for biologic drugs can be 10, 15 or even 20 times higher than those of most non-biologic drugs. For example, Enbrel, Remicade and Rituxan are biologic drugs that treat rheumatoid arthritis and cost $15,000 - $22,450 per year. In addition, costs for the handful of biologic drugs equipped to treat multiple sclerosis range from $12,700 - $28,400 per year—roughly equivalent to the cost of one year of college at a private institution. PPI's Fact Sheet features a chart comparing average treatment costs using biologics and non-biologic medicines for several common medical conditions.

Biologic drug costs are predicted to reach $99 billion by 2010, when they will account for 26 percent of all drug spending. More than half of the top 20 biologic drugs have or will go off patent by 2012. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lack the authority to evaluate and approve lower-cost generic biologics.

AARP Director of Government Relations David Sloane said, "For many patients suffering from certain chronic conditions, biologics provide better long-term outcomes. However, without access to lower-cost, generic biologics these life-saving therapies are simply out of reach for patients who cannot afford today's brand-name biologics."

Congress is considering the "Access to Life-Saving Medicine Act of 2007," S. 623/H.R. 1038, a bipartisan bill that would allow the FDA to establish an expedited process for the approval of safe, lower-cost, generic versions of biologic drugs.

To push for this legislation, AARP will begin an ad campaign Monday, June 11 in various publications targeting the Hill in support of these bills. The ad campaign's headline reads "This biologic drug could save her life. Unfortunately, she can't afford it."

"The astronomically high cost of many biologic drugs underscores the need for Congress to pass legislation to allow the FDA to expedite the approval process for less expensive generic biologics," continued Sloane. "Lower-cost, generic biologics will not only save lives, but can also save government programs like Medicaid and Medicare, employer health insurance and consumers billions of dollars each year."

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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